Mary did or didn't die?

She was “assumed, body and soul, into heaven…”
I take this to mean She didn’t die, as we do, or even as Jesus did. I’ve always envisioned that Mary was just taken off Her feet and disappeared into the clouds one day. She didn’t die, She was just simply…taken by God, and people could see this happening.
Is this literally true? There feels to me as though there is something left out. I’ve also heard the Apostles found Her tomb empty, as they had Jesus’. Her tomb strongly suggests she did actually die and was entombed, but was risen body and soul later…
Is anyone perfectly clear on this? It seems to be one of those things that just aren’t known.

That is, indeed, the case. Whereas it is a dogma that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven, the Church simply does not know whether or not she experienced death prior to this. This is why Munificentissimus Deus (the official definition of the dogma) puts it this way: “…the ever virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (see #44). The vagueness of the wording (i.e., “completed”) is intentional to allow for either belief of what happened at the end of her time on earth. Theologians debate whether or not she died, but the Church has no specific knowledge or official teaching regarding it.

I assume the Holy Mother died because she would want to experience death like her Son who vulunteered to die. Remember that the Lord Jesus was eternal and physical death would not came to Him as He grew. The only way the Lord Jesus could die is if He was killed. The Holy Mother even though she had no sin imputed to her probably consented to a voluntary death so as to experience it. We call this the “falling asleep” of the Mother of God. The greatest fact about her Assumption was she was resurrected as well. There are only two resurrected people in Heaven, the Lord Jesus and His Holy Mother.

Father,
Of course the Dogmatic decree itself leaves the question open…but does not the text of Munificentissimus Deus elsewhere refer to the tradition of Her Dormition (falling asleep / physical death)? Certainly the ancient tradition of the Church, as witnessed by the Fathers, the liturgy, and iconography is that She first died and then shared in the resurrection of Her Son (as is fitting for the perfect type of the Church). The Dormition is very prominently displayed in the iconography of St. Mary’s Major in Rome. Our Orthodox brothers and sisters are quite passionate that there can be no doubt that She first died before being raised to glory.

AMEN, God Bless, Memaw

I’m not sure what you’re asking, twf. In responding to the OP’s question about what is known, I’m limiting my response to what the Catholic Church definitively teaches (and, as you pointed out, the question is left open in the decree). Perhaps you could post the quote from MD that you’re referring to and provide your interpretation of it.

MD references MANY early statements by POPES, bishops, and early Liturgies saying that the Virgin Mary died.

Also St. Pope John Paul II had THIS to say about the “vague wording” in MD.

What priests SHOULD be teaching, is that the Church has always taught that the Virgin Mary died, both in her ancient Liturgy, in the Eastern Church, and by many popes and saints. However the Church has not made her death “de fide.” IOW, it is not currently taught by the extraordinary Magisterium, but has always been taught by the Ordinary Magisterium. That is what MD has to say. :wink:

Her we go again!!! God Bless, Memaw

The Church infallibly teaches that Mary was assumed into Heaven, with body and soul united.

The same magisterial document teaches, non-infallibly, that Mary first died and was raised from the death, prior to her assumption.

Some teachings of the Magisterium are infallible, and other teachings are non-infallible.

w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus.html

I will wait for the church to decide.
But until it becomes a real issue, it is likely the church will not rule.

It would seem to make sense that she did not die as there was no sin on her part.
However she could well have decided to go through this experience.

What I “should” be teaching is exactly what I did. I provided a link to MD in its entirety for the OP to read, quoted the pertinent part of the document’s conclusion, and stated that the Church has not provided a definitive teaching in answer to the OP’s specific question.

Out of curiosity, did you really mean to yell at me in all-caps, telling me what I “SHOULD” be teaching? In the future, if you are going to comment on one of my post then I kindly ask you to tone down the rhetoric.

I emphasize certain words in caps. It is my style. :wink: It is your inference that it was yelling.

You said:

I’m limiting my response to what the Catholic Church definitively teaches

That is why I emphasized the “should.” Maybe I jangled one of your exposed nerves, as you did with me. :wink:

IOW, although the Church does not teach definitively on the subject of the death of the Virgin Mary, the Church HAS taught regularly and from ancient times that the Virgin Mary died, all the way up until now by what was said by Pope John Paul II.

Did you read my link to St. Pope John Paul II?

He clarifies what his predecessor meant by what you called “the vagueness of the wording.”

These are ALL teachings of the ordinary Magisterium. They are what priests should be teaching. Not JUST what the Church teaches definitively as de fide.

I hope you are thick skinned enough to endure well meaning criticism from coarse internet posters like myself. :stuck_out_tongue:

All-caps is considered yelling in internet forums, as Michael Francis pointed out in the Apologetic Forum’s stickies: “Yelling in a forum, by definition, consists firstly of posting in ALL CAPS.” So don’t be surprised if others make the same inference that I did. This is why I customarily use italics to provide emphasis.

You said:

[quote]I’m limiting my response to what the Catholic Church definitively teaches

That is why I emphasized the “should.” Maybe I jangled one of your exposed nerves, as you did with me. :wink:

IOW, although the Church does not teach definitively on the subject of the death of the Virgin Mary, the Church HAS taught regularly and from ancient times that the Virgin Mary died, all the way up until now by what was said by Pope John Paul II.

Did you read my link to St. Pope John Paul II?

He clarifies what his predecessor meant by what you called “the vagueness of the wording.”

These are ALL teachings of the ordinary Magisterium. They are what priests should be teaching. Not JUST what the Church teaches definitively as de fide.
[/quote]

You earlier stated, “That is what MD has to say.” And yet, I’m the one who brought up MD, linked it, and mentioned that the subject is debated by theologians. So when my input in this thread is considered in its totality, I am obviously including more than what is definitively taught.

Nevertheless, I certainly chose to limit my own answer in terms of that which is de fide. After all, the OP specifically asked, “Is anyone perfectly clear on this?” As far as I’m concerned, the perfect clarity the OP was asking for amounted to a definitive teaching.

I hope you are thick skinned enough to endure well meaning criticism from coarse internet posters like myself. :stuck_out_tongue:

And I hope you’re likewise thick-skinned enough for my reply. As I have pointed out, the OP asked for an answer that was “perfectly clear” regarding the question as to whether or not Mary experienced bodily death. If it is your opinion that material from the ECFs, ancient liturgies, and a general audience from JPII amount to the perfect clarity that the OP was asking for, then you could have simply stated as much directly to the OP. Instead, you chose to debate me over my decision to use de fide material and then presume to lecture me on what I should be teaching people on this subject. Don’t let the “new member” title under my name fool you, I have debated extensively on other Catholic forums, including those where open hostility was the norm, especially against the clergy, so I am plenty thick-skinned enough. But in my honest opinion, your participation on this particular thread could have been handled in a better way. I have no problem with the content of your material, only in the manner that you chose to deliver it.

If it is your opinion that material from the ECFs, ancient liturgies, and a general audience from JPII amount to the perfect clarity that the OP was asking for, then you could have simply stated as much directly to the OP. Instead, you chose to debate me over my decision to use de fide material and then presume to lecture me on what I should be teaching people on this subject.

One thing I would like to clear up. I said:

What priests SHOULD be teaching, is that the Church has always taught that the Virgin Mary died, both in her ancient Liturgy, in the Eastern Church, and by many popes and saints.

I wasn’t addressing you in particular. Nor do I think that simple comment amounts to a lecture.

Also, this is what priests traditionally DID teach, since it was the teaching of the ordinary Magisterium.

You said:

I have no problem with the content of your material,

Maybe we can resolve to concentrate more on content and less on stylistic differences. :wink:

You said:

the Church simply does not know whether or not she experienced death prior to this.

I believe that is an error. The Church DOES know. She has always taught through the Ordinary Magisterium that the Virgin Mary did die. Because it has not been defined as de fide, there has been some room for speculation by theologians. Although there has never been anything more than speculation on that front. Nor does it mean that the clarity of Church teaching is muddied.

For example, the Church ALWAYS knew that the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven. However, until it was formally defined as de fide in 1950, there was room for speculation by the theologians. But if a good Catholic Christian had asked you in 1940 whether the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven, would you have taught as the Church Magisterium had always done for all ages past, or instead said the Church doesn’t know? :confused:

Understand that when I say “the Church” I am referring to the mystical mystery of the Church, headed by Jesus Christ, under the patronage of the Virgin Mary, and united with the Church triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.

So there is NO doubt that the Church knows whether the Virgin Mary died. On earth, the Church has always taught through ECFs, the Eastern Church, Popes, Saints and the Liturgy, IOW, the ordinary Magisterium that she died.

How does one die and is assumed into Heaven body and soul? Where was there ever a separation of the two?

  1. If Mary in fact died according to the Dormition then her soul went to Heaven and then her body.

  2. If the Dormition is true as presupposed then the body and soul couldn’t be translated together.

  3. Surely the soul never died.

  4. What reason did Mary need to die? What was she guilty of? Other than the presupposed idea “she desired to die as her Son” I can think of none.

  5. How is death qualified in relation to Mary. What does this presupposed death mean? She looked dead at the Dormition but the body and soul were translated to Heaven? How so?

I think aside from the Church teaching, infallible or ordinary, these are a few of the questions.

Mary’s Assumption

Telling me what I should be teaching, as opposed to what I actually teach, looks like lecturing to me, which can just as easily be done with simple comments as well as lengthy ones. But I’ve had my say in this matter, and you’ve had yours, so let’s move on.

Also, this is what priests traditionally DID teach, since it was the teaching of the ordinary Magisterium.

The OP did not ask what priests traditionally taught. The OP asked for an understanding that was “perfectly clear.”

Maybe we can resolve to concentrate more on content and less on stylistic differences. :wink:

That’s fine with me, as long as that content focuses on the OP’s actual question.

You said:

[quote]
the Church simply does not know whether or not she experienced death prior to this.

I believe that is an error.
[/quote]

Keep in mind that in that same post I also said, “the Church has no specific knowledge or official teaching regarding it.” In my second post I clarified that my response was in terms of what is definitively taught, and therefore what I said is objectively true. So now let us see how you went about demonstrating the error you perceived I made…

The Church DOES know. She has always taught through the Ordinary Magisterium that the Virgin Mary did die. Because it has not been defined as de fide, there has been some room for speculation by theologians. Although there has never been anything more than speculation on that front.

You state that the Church “does know” that Mary died, but then you admit that the Church does not know it definitively. Therefore, you haven’t presented anything that actually shows my statement to be erroneous. Rather, what you are claiming (in so many words) is that a non-de fide tradition of the magnitude you described is good enough to be considered an authentic Church teaching. But that is not what this thread is actually about, and I will address this further in my next response.

Nor does it mean that the clarity of Church teaching is muddied.

I never said it was “muddied”, I said that it does not amount to the “perfect clarity” that the OP was asking for. And that, then, is what this thread is supposed to be about. If there is no definitive statement, and there is room for debate without either contradicting an official position of the Church, then it is not a “perfectly clear” teaching.

Are you suggesting that the weight of the tradition you cited has the “perfect clarity” of an actual de fide statement? If so, does this mean that theologians who present opposing views are in violation of Church teaching?

Or is it your position that the tradition you cited lacks the perfect clarity of a de fide statement, but is good enough? If that is the case, then a teaching that lacks perfect clarity is not what the OP specifically asked for.

If your position is something different altogether, then let me know.

For example, the Church ALWAYS knew that the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven. However, until it was formally defined as de fide in 1950, there was room for speculation by the theologians. But if a good Catholic Christian had asked you in 1940 whether the Virgin Mary was Assumed into Heaven, would you have taught as the Church Magisterium had always done for all ages past, or instead said the Church doesn’t know? :confused:

Let’s be sure to put your question in the proper context of this thread. If someone asked me in 1940 if the Church had a “perfectly clear” response to the question of the Assumption, I would have given the same answer I’ve been giving in this thread, that it was debated among theologians and that the Church did not have a definitive teaching on it.

If a person asked me post-1950 if the Church had a “perfectly clear” response to the question of Mary’s Assumption, I would have said, “yes,” and quoted the de fide statement from MD.

Understand that when I say “the Church” I am referring to the mystical mystery of the Church, headed by Jesus Christ, under the patronage of the Virgin Mary, and united with the Church triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.

So there is NO doubt that the Church knows whether the Virgin Mary died. On earth, the Church has always taught through ECFs, the Eastern Church, Popes, Saints and the Liturgy, IOW, the ordinary Magisterium that she died.

If there is room for honest debate to the contrary then, by definition, there is room for doubt. If there is room for doubt then it lacks the perfection of clarity that is the focus of this thread.

AmbroseSJ, if it is your desire to continue this debate with me, then I want you to answer the following question: Can you objectively demonstrate that anything I said in this thread was erroneous? If so, then, by all means, make a case for it. If, on the other hand, you now believe that I have not said anything that is actually erroneous, and that this debate is really about a difference of opinion (as to what is a proper response to the thread’s question), then I think this matter can be closed. In other words, we can now leave it in the hands of the OP to weigh the credibility of our material and make a personal decision on what to believe.

Father, bless.

Ambrose’s link to Pope St. John Paul’s audience on the matter sums up the issue for me. His Holiness refers to the **fact ** (his word) of Her death and confirms that the notion that She did not die was unknown to the Church prior to the 17th century. w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/1997/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_25061997.html
I agree that it has not been defined De Fide, but I think it is useful for the faithful to be made aware of the Church’s witness in Her ancient liturgies, the Fathers, and iconography. The Church holds Our Lady up as a perfect type and model of the Church. On many levels I find this difficult if we deny Her a share in the resurrection (and as Pope St. John Paul pointed out, there can be no share in the resurrection without a share in the death of Christ). Certainly the Eastern Churches, and this would include the Eastern Catholic Churches, teach Her Dormition definitively. The issue may be open for Latin Catholics, but there is no doubt for our Eastern brethren who never departed from the universal ancient witness.

Regarding quotes from Munificentissimus Deus, here are a couple (emphasis added):

  1. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of **remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.
    **17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."(11)
  2. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt,** but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son**, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.
  1. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. “It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, **should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. **It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”(17)

[sums up the issue for me

OK but just a few questions…

remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

Was this Body and Soul alive or dead in the grave?

Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death

Does this mean Body and Soul remained together and dead by the bonds of death?

but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son

How did she die Body and Soul?

should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death.

Which indicates to me since corruption isn’t relevant she couldn’t have died. How so and Assumed Body and Soul?

I don’t see where anything is “clear” but she was Assumed Body and Soul. I don’t see where dead or assumed Body and Soul is defined anywhere. In fact I don’t think the east and west teaching in this regard is mutually exclusive. Can’t see how nor do I see any attempt to address the real questions but dance around them to suggest as usual someone is or isn’t following a Church teaching. I don’t see where anyone has an issue with this. What I see is those who suggest she died can’t qualify the east and west teaching but they seem to think its very understandable. That be the case then help us understand. :shrug:

How does one die, is in the ground three days corrupt or not and is Assumed Body and Soul three days later as some quotes state?
[/quote]

It is not important if she died or not before being assumed. It is the Assumption that is important.

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